In early 2000, Michael and Lynn Terry started a business selling horse trailers that were lighter than their competitors’ and customized to each client’s needs. Nearly two decades later, their company, Cimarron Trailers, with tens of millions of dollars in sales, employed over 130 people in Chickasha, Okla., and their trailers were sold at 30 dealerships across the country.
And they wanted to retire.
But as the couple, who met in high school, contemplated a sale, they faced a conundrum: They had offers from dealers and competitors to buy their business; they also had an offer from a private equity firm for a price so high they were shocked. But none of those offers guaranteed that Cimarron would continue as a business with its 130 employees working in its community.
“We thought, this has got to go on,” Mrs. Terry said. “We’re one of the bigger employers here in Chickasha.”